If you listen to Ajit Pai and the telecoms industries’ paid mouthpieces, who have been crying foul over net neutrality ever since 2015, any kind of government intervention in the internet is Bad. Private companies will always provide the best, fastest, and most innovative service, and irritating regulations like net neutrality only get in the way.
Well, the telecoms lobby got their way and net neutrality is officially dead. But that doesn’t make their arguments any more true, and PC Mag‘s annual ranking of the fastest internet service providers once again shows that municipal broadband is, in fact, the best.
PC Mag’s speed rankings use around a quarter of a million US-based speed test results from its in-house speed test, which is designed behind the scenes by the same people who operate the more famous Speedtest.net. The results are weighted 80/20 in favor of upload speed, and then used to make a ranking from fastest to slowest.
In first place overall, the fastest and best internet service provider in America, is a tiny provider called Nextlight, the municipal broadband provider for the city of Longmont, Colorado. It averaged 278.4 on PCMag’s speed index, narrowly beating Google Fiber into second place, and thoroughly shaming nationwide providers.
All in all, it was a strong showing for small, local internet service providers, which were consistently better than the national behemoths. Sonic, the regional San Francisco provider, was in third place overall, while EPB Fiber Optic, the municipal provider for Chattanooga, Tennessee, came in fourth.
Of the big providers, Verizon’s FIOS service was the best, with a speed index of 138.7. The top five of “big” providers is rounded out by a collection of smaller regional ISPs that only serve a few states, like RCN, Suddenlink, Hotwire, and Optimum. AT&T Fiber, Cox, and Comcast Xfinity are all in the bottom half of the top 10.
The results aren’t particularly surprising — of course small regional providers that specialize in fiber-to-the-premises will score well on a speed test comparison — but it does go to show that when it comes to internet providers, bigger isn’t really better.